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Steve Lackmeyer: Uptown development will benefit Paseo Arts District

The Oklahoman's Steve Lackmeyer took questions from readers in today's OKC Central Live Chat. You can join Steve's Q&A's on Fridays at 10 a.m. and submit your questions about the happenings in and around downtown Oklahoma City.
by Steve Lackmeyer Modified: May 2, 2014 at 12:03 pm •  Published: May 2, 2014
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The Oklahoman's Steve Lackmeyer took questions from readers in today's OKC Central Live Chat. You can join Steve's Q&As on Fridays at 10 a.m. and submit your questions about the happenings in and around downtown Oklahoma City. Read the complete chat transcript here.

How do you feel about modern developments in a community like the Paseo where primarily all of the buildings were built no later than the 1950s? And how do you feel the uptown development will affect the Paseo?

I think the Uptown development is great for the Paseo. The area is governed by design ordinances so I'm not too worried about projects that appearance wise might not be a good fit.

Do you think a craft beer restaurant will fit in to that area nicely with Empire being right next door, Saints and The Mule down the street?

Yes I do, and more importantly, the smartest mind in the city when it comes to urban core small retail, Allison Bailey, thinks they're a good fit. I can't emphasize enough how much I love this project. The building being redeveloped by David Wanzer was really the last truly unsightly property left along NW 16, and the restoration of the original facade adds a lot of character to the street.

The Plaza District evolved a bit in reverse in that it started out with a great mix of shops and retailers, but always needed a good mix of restaurants and bars. That has now taken place, and I can't imagine a better example of an urban district thriving despite a lack of parking or immediate access to a major traffic corridor. The Plaza District stands as a reminder that if everyone involved is committed to changing the rules of the game, they will win and create a place that is very special.

With the news of the two new places in Plaza, it looks like there is little left to develop, commercially, on 16th street. Do you envision a developer purchasing a swath of the houses west of the 'Plaza core' and rezoning to commercial?

Nope. I don't think the city would allow for such conversions, and I don't think the neighborhood would see it as a healthy change either. I do see a couple of places where the tenant mix could easily be "upgraded." There also are a couple of vacant lots and mixed properties where such development can take place as well. 

What do you think will be the impact on the OCU main campus by the move of the Law School to downtown? Do you think this will take away from the unity of the students at OCU or help OCU to diversify say by adding new degree offerings in the leftover space that is currently occupied by the Law School?

I think the OCU law school students will be every bit as wired in and loyal to the university as those on the main campus. OCU has already indicated this move will allow for expansion of other programs, so I doubt it will really diminish the main campus population. The new law school, meanwhile, will cause a pretty significant transformation of an area that to date had lagged behind the redevelopment of the remainder of Midtown to the west and Automobile Alley to the east. Expect the area to fill in with housing and retail.

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by Steve Lackmeyer
Business Reporter
Steve Lackmeyer is a reporter and columnist who started his career at The Oklahoman in 1990. Since then, he has won numerous awards for his coverage, which included the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, the city's Metropolitan...
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